Mining her own physicality, Peligian’s forms are markers of living things: materialized echoes of the artist’s movement, manifestations of human body parts, unassuming anthropomorphic displays. Relishing in contrasts, the works in of body live outside of a recognizable movement or time. While sleek and seemingly indestructible, Peligian imbues her sculpture with bracing fragility. An abstract landscape punctuated with figuration, natural shapes are encased in manmade finishes, distorting scale. Peligian ruptures the familiar—to be amongst these works is to be made newly aware of one’s own body.
Peligian’s most direct reference is Louise Bourgeois, elemental threads of the late artist knit throughout the exhibition. Louise (2017) has been made delicate and unclimbable from the addition of eight small legs and a downy exterior. This wily anthropomorphism reappears in Lucy (2018) and 6lbs 4oz (2019), both cast sculptures of pelves. Graceful and leaden, each piece demonstrates the varied forms of a body and, in Peligian’s hands, attests to a woman’s multidimensionality: from youth through childbirth and into old age, the pelvis is a vessel that bends but does not break.
Anchoring the show are Best Kept Secret and the immense Hush Hush (both 2019). When creating her amorphous fiberglass sculptures, Peligian twists through tunnels of wire to create the basic shape before applying the polished fiberglass finish. Operating within the confines of her form, Peligian's body becomes its own constraint within the sculptures interior. Similar to Lousie’s claw-like feet, the additional supporting architecture for Best Kept Secret warps our sense of scale. The work becomes a study for something larger, expanding Peligian’s scope to the metaphysical intent.
This otherworldliness is embodied in the undulating lead, neon, and steel of Touch Me Now (2016). A contrast in materiality and perception, crushingly-heavy lead ribbons beckon the viewer while neon rods run through the twisted coil like a lifeline. Peligian offers a maximalist version of things in of body, acknowledging the contradictions, and limitations, of objects brought into existence. The work is delicate and dense, physical yet transcendent, beautiful while uncanny. This is Peligian's alchemical vision of being—reminding us of what it is to be human.
The exhibition is on view from April 13 through May 21, 2019. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, April 13 at 5pm.
Carol Peligian (b. 1954) is a multi-disciplinary artist whose practice has been based in Long Island City for nearly two decades. She has taught at the Rhode Island School of Design & has been a faculty member at Parsons School of Design since 1994. Her drawings, paintings, & sculptures have been shown & commissioned in the United States & Europe. The recipient of several grants & awards, she is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design & has also studied at Brown University, the Sorbonne, & Sarah Lawrence College.